28 Jul

Pepper Talk with Rich Guy

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Rich with us. Rich is a Senior Designer at Eleven Peppers Studios who works mainly on in-house projects but is frequently called upon to work his magic with requests from the studio’s commercial clients.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
I usually just go by Rich but within the dance community, people know me as “Blu”.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check the time to see if I still have 10 more minutes before I have to get up. If not, I make some coffee.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Depends on the project, but most of the time I’d say I’m very simple but clever. I like to focus on ensuring that the content is conveyed as quick and provokingly as possible.

 

4: How did you get started?
Art and Design has always been my focus since I was a child. Throughout grade school, I’ve always taken at least one Art class to further refine my creative skills. I graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s in Design and started my career as an in-house designer at a non-profit business in DC. I then found interest within the realm of User Experience because of the challenge of applying creativity, psychology, and engineering to create something that integrates into people’s lives. I’m continuing to find new ways to utilize my creativity and grow in the field.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
I love Sketch. It’s such an easy tool to mock-up lo-fi and hi-fi wireframes. Very lightweight and easy to pick up if you have an extensive background with Adobe products. There’s also a plug-in called “Craft” that you can download for free that helps you create mockups faster and also instantly create a brand guideline from your work space.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Sort of [pauses], it really depends on the scope of the project. A larger project with a longer deadline gives me time to really think thoroughly about the best direction and gives me more time to communicate with clients/stakeholders to ensure everything is going as planned. I like to create lo-fi mockups as much as I can before I move onto layering more details. When it comes to projects with shorter deadlines, however, I just let my intuition take over.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
My plethora of bookmarked links. If nothing else, Dribbble, awwwards.com, and Behance are my go-tos.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine!
Sweet or Savory: Sweet
Favorite Movie: Book of Life
Guilty Pleasure: Checking my phone every minute to see if I’m getting any new likes on my social media posts [laughs]
Hobbies:: Dance, Painting, Hanging out, Movies

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Fidget spinners [grins].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Rich. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

30 Jun

Pepper Talk with Kate Coates

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kate with us… nope, you’re not seeing double, we just have a lot of repeated names. Just a little background before we get started, Kate just celebrated her 2 year work-aversary with Eleven Peppers Studios. She is one of our esteemed Art Directors and spends a lot of her time working with customers to improve their user experience designs.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
My parent’s original intention was for me to go by Katie but I rebelled in 3rd grade and decided from thence forth I was going to be Katherine. That was a bit short lived though. It was the year of learning cursive… and so I ended the year as Kate. It’s kind-of funny that I started my journey as Kate out of pure 3rd grade laziness but it stuck. Really it worked out perfectly because I ended up with a sister-in-law that goes by Katherine.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze! It’s a terrible habit that I developed during my marriage. I used to be able to get up and out the door in ten minutes flat, nutrigrain bar in hand, but once you discover that button, there’s no going back.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I tend to lean towards a more flat, Bauhaus style. Just the Bauhaus’ notion of placing profound focus on the purpose or function of the design is something I relate to very strongly, especially within UX design. Really that is what UX is all about, not just making things pretty but making sure the site or tool is usable and efficient…not saying it shouldn’t look good too.

 

4: How did you get started?
My first official foray into design was in 12th grade when half of my school day was an internship in the design department of a company called United Communications Group (UCG). It’s there that I officially found that graphic design was the place for me and launched into my undergraduate design career. But really growing up in the house of an architect father and a crafty mother, it came as no surprise to friends and family that I ventured off in the arts direction…

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hmm, I’m not sure I can think of a worst off the top of my head but favorite is pretty easy. A few years ago I would have said Photoshop hands-down but in the recent years Illustrator has become my best friend. It’s great for everything that I currently focus on at work, from wireframes and mockups to logos and branding. I live in a digital world. Vector all day, every day.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I tend to start with the question: “Who are the users and what are their goals?” It’s only through answering that question that I can make sure that the design that’s going to follow makes sense for the end user. If I miss answering that question, the design will just be a lofty guess that is half-baked at best. I’ve found desk-side interviews and lots of research is key for kicking off a successful, user-experience focused tool.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
From my peers. It’s great to be surrounded with other UX people to bounce ideas off of and sketch out new possibilities. On top of that using websites and mobile tools daily to see what other people are doing is a huge source of inspiration too.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine. No coffee, no tea, just the occasional Dr.Pepper [grins]
Sweet or Savory: Sweet (Really gotta kick my new brownie obsession…)
Favorite Movie: Honestly, I’ve become more of a T.V. person then a movie person…so I’m not really sure.
Guilty Pleasure: Did I mention brownies? [laughs]
Hobbies:: Refurbing my 1908 home (two rooms away from being done!!) and spending time with family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Hands down, the Design Army’s campaign for the Washington Ballet’s show, Alice in Wonderland. The combination of photography and typography is absolutely breathtaking. I actually have several of the images at my desk for inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kate. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

19 May

Pepper Talk with Katie Burns

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Katie with us. Just a little background before we get started, Katie is relatively new to Eleven Peppers Studio. She mostly works on projects for the private sector but writes content for 11P blogs and social media posts.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Kate, KitKat… my favorite is earth-to-Katie, typically used when I drift into “Katie-Space”.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Kiss my husband, cuddle our two dogs, drink hot lemon water and then workout. The workout ensures that I don’t feel too guilty with the next thing that happens… typically a not-so-healthy sausage, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel [grins] mama gets hungry!

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I don’t have any [laughs], just joking. Since I’m not a designer by trade, I’ll relate this question back to content creation. My style is conversational, witty, a bit sarcastic… which doesn’t always translate well. Oh and self-deprecating.

 

4: How did you get started?
After college, I started working as a program manager on a small web-development team… really I translated all that software-dev “speak” to customers and vice-versa. This ensured that everyone was happy with the final product. I’ve always been drawn towards people’s stories/ideas/needs and I love capturing their unique voice. It seemed like a natural fit to take over creating content for the company’s social media presence.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
For social media I love Buffer to schedule our posts. Planoly is another great app to make sure your feed flows and is well curated. Huge fan of auto-correct and spell-check [smiles], my mother taught high school English back in the day and always corrects me, so these tools give me a leg up.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I’m a start now and think later kind of gal. I rarely brainstorm on a project for too long before jumping in. My motto: go with your gut and then revise the heck out of it… and spellcheck!

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Everything… I’m constantly scrolling through Instagram. As a creative company we follow a broad range of companies, all with different styles and voices. It’s the perfect storm of inspiration.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine… tea, not coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Savory, give me a loaf of bread any day!
Favorite Movie: Return to Me, classic.
Guilty Pleasure: Oh, any of those ridiculous Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve, has-everyone-and-their-mother’s-mother-casted movies.
Hobbies:: Beach volleyball, cooking/baking, shopping at Home Goods.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Again, going to go with content and I’d have to say pretty much any quote about “Mondays” ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Katie. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

21 Apr

Pepper Talk with Brian Lynch

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Brian with us. Just a little background before we get started, Brian is one of Eleven Peppers Studios more recent hires. He is one of our Principal Software Engineers and works directly with our federal clients to build websites and web apps to help make their jobs easier.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
“Brian” doesn’t lend itself to many nicknames. Bri is about the best I’ll get and will occasionally just sign an email that way, if not just B. Or I guess there are other names that just aren’t appropriate to be repeated [grins].

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
After my alarm goes off – only on a work day – and my wife jumps in the shower, I usually just lay in bed with my eyes closed not wanting to open them. Not too long ago I set up some home automation stuff in my house and I can now tell my Echo “Alexa, turn on bedroom lights” and they come on at about 30% brightness. I’m still not happy about the light being on, but at least it’s not a complete shock. Otherwise, some phone surfing before crawling out of bed and getting dressed.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Since I’m not a designer, I do better when trying to mimic or improve rather than create new. The best perk-up to my career was meeting the Peppers. I worked with several before becoming one myself, so having my now, coworkers put together designs for the websites I build, or at least having them to bounce ideas off, has become my design style.

 

4: How did you get started?
This could get really long if I let it… but, my dad was in the computer field my entire life and that let me get into the weeds of them very early on. I took a lot of electronic and programming classes throughout school, and graduated from UMBC with a Computer Engineering degree. It then took me another five or so years to realize that front end development – mobile, web, etc – was what I liked the most.

 

5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
If I say MS Paint, I’ll have to duck from the things getting thrown at my head, but I’m not a designer so I mostly use software development tools. Any uncomplicated IDE is generally all I need. Eclipse is far too bulky, but I’ve figured out enough of its shortcuts to make it useful. Apple’s Xcode for mobile development has a nice look and feel to it, but also has somewhat of a learning curve. Atom on Linux isn’t too bad. Notepad++ is always a great go-to. It’s hard to say I have a favorite. Give me jQuery and something to type some code in and I’ll spit out a website in a week. However, development platforms that need a month to configure with several dozen files cluttering up space and style platforms that try to put a one-size-fits-all approach to displays are the worst in my opinion.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I might run through a few looks at the data I’ll be using and if I’m lucky enough to have a few designs to build from I’ll start creating some skeleton files for my site. If I have access to some of my past work that could be used in the new project, all the better. Otherwise, I just start knocking out some code just to get a display up on the screen. I tidy it up later once most of the functionality is in place. [Thinking out loud] Maybe I do have a favorite tool of the trade… in-browser dev tools. They let me do some on-demand styling to see what I might need to plan for later.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Definitely my fellow Peppers when I have access to them. Otherwise, if I need to style a button or table, I’ll usually poke around google images or some CSS sites to see if a style pops out to me.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, Caffeine. All the coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Usually Savory.
Favorite Movie: Fight Club and Deadpool are my go-tos.
Guilty Pleasure: Hmm… Bourbon Barrel Aged beers?
Hobbies:: Playing guitar, brewing beer, making things look good, pretending to be athletic.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
I think I have more of a problem with not following through with my ideas and seeing someone else do the same later on. I wish I could say that hasn’t happened more than once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Brian. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

24 Mar

Pepper Talk with Ashley Philip

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, you just couldn’t get enough of the first one so we’ve added in a couple more questions and a rapid-fire round! This month we have Ashley with us. Just a little background before we get started, Ashley has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over a year now. She works with our commercial clients on all sorts of projects and also designs graphics for various in-house and social media channel campaigns.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Not really [pauses] most people automatically just shorten my name to “Ash” anyway.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check my phone to see if I missed any calls, texts, emails, Slack messages [grins].

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Timeless. I like making complicated things look completely effortless. I’m interested in anything that can last through the years and aren’t just “trends” at the moment.

 

4: How did you get started?
I went to school at UMBC for Visual Arts and volunteered with AIGA Baltimore overseeing all their social media graphics and various other marketing materials for each of their events.

 

5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Ooh very hard to say because each software does a job. [pauses to think] My favorites would have to be Illustrator and Sketch. Illustrator mainly because that’s the software I remember most of the key commands for and plus, it’s precise and Sketch is like a mini-version of Illustrator although much more efficient. The worst for me, I would have to say Photoshop, sorry designers, but I’m not the biggest fan [laughing].

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I remember when I was in school, the second I received a project brief, the very first thoughts I had running through my head 99% of the time, would always be the best idea/end result. Anything that came after were duds. I kind of need to picture the end result of something first, this is when I delve into the ample amounts of research to see whether or not the idea will work or what I can do to make it even better.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Literally everything! From photography to fashion to architecture, I’m incredibly interested in what makes something resonate with people and am continuously trying to implement that in my own work.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: No, I never understood the caffeine craze.
Sweet or Savory: Uhm, both?
Favorite Movie: A Walk to Remember, because who doesn’t love
a sappy love story.
Guilty Pleasure: Reality TV of all kinds.
Hobbies:: Working out, spending time with friends and family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Mhm hard to say. I can appreciate anything that is very well designed but it doesn’t make me wish I came up with it first. Instead, I’d like to pick the brains of these people to further understand how they got to their end result. When I see a great design, I’m so much more curious about the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Ashley. Like the additional questions? Make sure you let us know on social media. And remember, we’ll be introducing a different pepper each month so stay tuned!!!

24 Feb

New Series: Pepper Talk with David Meade

Welcome to Pepper Talk, a new series here on the Eleven Peppers blog. Each month we’ll be sitting down with one of our peppers to get all the goods. This week we have Dave with us, he has worked for Eleven Peppers Studios almost since the beginning! Dave has a background in video and currently does UX design for the private sector.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Well, obviously Dave [grins] but I’d say Davy, Joe Dave-o (typically shortened to Dave-o) and the Beer Dumpster or Dumpster. It just depends on my circle of friends.

 

2: How would you describe your design style?
I have no style, or, too many styles. I see other things that I really like and I try to find a way to make it my own. My design is like my personality, it has many looks. I’m like Fletch (dated reference). If there were a pattern, it would be clean and uncluttered. For instance, I don’t like modern art, so there goes designs with stuff scattered everywhere.

 

3: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Oddly enough, the tools I love are the tools I despise at times: Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, which is my all-time favorite, probably because of my background in video. I have a love hate relationship with all of them.

 

4: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
It depends on the project, but I typically research the h*** out it first, too much some people say. Same goes in my personal life, it took me at least 6 months to pick out my truck.

 

5: What do you draw inspiration from?
Everyone and everything around me: architecture, personal styles, coworkers, etc. Seriously, the colors in those flowers [pointing to the flowers next to us], other people’s artwork, other pepper’s portfolios… I feel like I’m not creative at all [laughs] so I look around me.

 

6: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
There are a lot, mostly beer labels. I’ve wanted to come up with my own beer label/logo for years.

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AnchormanCostume

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Thanks for meeting Dave. Remember, we’ll be introducing a different pepper each month so stay tuned!!!